Cover photo for Dean Knudsen's Obituary
Dean Knudsen Profile Photo
1936 Dean 2020

Dean Knudsen

September 3, 1936 — January 2, 2020

Detroit Lakes

Dean Knudsen, a loving husband, father, and grandfather of Detroit Lakes, MN and Scottsdale, AZ passed away at 83, Thursday, January 2, 2020 in Detroit Lakes.

Dean was born in Bismarck, ND September 3, 1936 to Harry and Sylvia Knudsen and raised in Washington DC where his parents were employed by the Federal Government. He graduated Anacostia High School in 1954 and followed his father in attending the University of North Dakota, where he earned a degree in Accounting and Business. He met Shell Stolee of Grand Forks at UND and they married in 1960. They moved to Fargo ND where they raised their three sons and Dean was a senior partner with the accounting firm Eide Bailly. After 40 years with the company they retired to Scottsdale, AZ maintaining a summer home on Pelican Lake, MN.

Dean was known for his wry sense of humor—during college days he entertained whole parties of friends singing comic songs and playing ukulele. In the 1970s he and Shell enjoyed the company of a lively social group that included membership in an investment club and partnership in the Fargo Cork and Cleaver, a successful dinner club, where Knudsen family outings were common. Tall and athletic, it was not uncommon to see Dean spin Shell on the dance floor in a spirited boogie-woogie.

Growing up in the nation’s capital, where his father was a civil engineer at the Pentagon and his mother a college librarian, they lived within two miles of the White House during the racially volatile 1950s, where Dean was a high school standout in football and basketball. He became a life-long, devoted golfer, a member of Fargo Country Club and Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale over a total of 50 years, during which he was also recognized as a formidable hand at the gin rummy tables. Until recently he served for years as a golf ranger on the links at Wildflower on Lake Pelican.

Dean never missed an autumn of duck hunting and taught his three sons all the “dos and don’ts” of guns and game as young hunters, leading friends and their kids on expeditions to a favorite hunting ground in Kulm, North Dakota, an annual event that has evolved into an inter-generational tradition, forty-odd years on, that his three sons continue with his grandsons today.

Dean was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Sylvia, his sister Betty, niece Susan and nephew Jay. He is survived by his wife Shell, sons Dan (Jackie), Steve (Beth), and Jim (Lisa), as well as five grandchildren. A memorial of his life will be held next summer in Detroit Lakes. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider a donation in his name to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. (

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dean Knudsen, please visit our flower store.


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